Tuesday, March 24, 2015

We're All Thessalonians Now

Last week, I came across an article over at The Remnant entitled "Global Catastrophe Rising: So now what do we do?" by the always delightful Hilary White. If you're not familiar with her impressive body of work, you should be. She's LifeSite's Rome Correspondent, so chances are good that you've been reading her writing for some time now. Besides that, anyone who has been lambasted as a "radical Catholic reactionary" by Dave Armstrong is worth keeping tabs on, in my opinion. And the fact that she once consigned a copy of Understanding Difficult Scriptures in a Healing Way to the flames of a Norcian bonfire makes my inner medievalist smile rather impishly.

Those of you who follow me on Google+ might recall that I linked to this article when it first appeared, and I've been meaning to comment on it ever since. I've kept an eye on the comments section, and, except for one or two dismissive remarks calling the article "sensationalism," an "exercise in futility," and even "hysterical," the contributions demonstrate that people are taking the matter quite seriously, and are appreciative of Ms. White's refreshingly open and unapologetic inquiry. I warmly recommend the article to you, gentle reader, as it's a good opportunity to sit down and take stock of your options. (ProTip: Wikkimissa)

Obviously, I don't have the answers to the questions posed in the article. Besides, I don't think having an answer for all of them is either necessary or even possible at this time. We're talking about what the Germans would call a Super-GAU situation [English: Maximum Credible Accident (MCA), which is not nearly as much fun to say out loud], the planning for which is often little more than an exercise in creating the illusion of preparedness. Nonetheless, I would like to contribute something to the discussion. Consider it appropriate reading material for your private deliberations.

As you might have guessed from the title of this post, the reading selection is from Sacred Scripture. Before you click away in a fit of TL;DR, please note that what I'm about to present is a little different from what you're likely used to reading. It's from the 1635 edition of the Douay-Rheims Bible - the Catholic English-language Bible of the Counter-Reformation - before Bishop Challoner's 18th century revision. (Have you met my inner medievalist yet? I've told him that, historically speaking, 1635 is far too late to be considered medieval, but he doesn't seem to care. Did I mention he's impish? I allow him to call it very late medieval, and in return he allows me to update the archaic spelling.) I'm presenting it as the letter it is, written by the Apostle Paul to the Christians at Thessaloniki, and I ask you to keep in mind the challenges we face today while you read it. I think that, once you've finished, you'll be able to understand why this particular epistle is so pertinent to our own situation: We're all Thessalonians now.

Ruins of the Roman Agora at Thessaloniki


The Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians

Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!

We ought to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, as is meet, because your faith increaseth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you aboundeth towards each other, so that we ourselves also glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations which you sustain for an example of the just judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which also you suffer. If yet it be just with God to repay tribulation to them that vex you, and to you that are vexed, rest with us in the revelation of our Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of His power, in flame of fire, giving revenge to them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall suffer eternal pains in destruction from the face of our Lord and from the glory of his power when He shall come to be glorified in His saints and to be made marvelous in all them that have believed, because our testimony concerning you was credited in that day. Wherein also we pray always for you, that our God make you worthy of His vocation, and accomplish all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith in power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And we desire you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and by our congregation into him, that you be not easily moved from your sense, nor be terrified, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle as sent by us, as though the day of our Lord were at hand. Let no man seduce you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who is an adversary and is extolled above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself as though he were God. Remember you not that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now what letteth you know, that he may be revealed in his time. For now the mystery of iniquity worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom our Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the manifestation of His advent, him whose coming is according to the operation of Satan, in all power and lying signs and wonders, and in all seducing of iniquity to them that perish, for that they have not received the charity of the truth that they might be saved. Therefore God will send them the operation of error, to believe lying, that all may be judged which have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.

But we ought to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of God, that He hath chosen you first-fruits unto salvation, in sanctification of spirit and faith of the truth into which also He hath called you by our Gospel, unto the purchasing of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether it be by word or by our epistle. And our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who hath loved us and hath given eternal consolation and good hope in grace, exhort your hearts and confirm you in every good work and word.

For the rest, brethren, pray for us, that the word of God may have course and be glorified as also with you, and that we may be delivered from importunate and naughty men; for all men have not faith. But our Lord is faithful, who will confirm and keep you from evil. And we have confidence of you in our Lord that the things which we command you both do and will do. And our Lord direct your hearts in the charity of God and the patience of Christ.

And we denounce unto you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother walking inordinately and not according to the tradition which they have received of us. For yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, for we have not been unquiet among you; neither have we eaten bread of any man gratis, but in labour and in toil, night and day working, lest we should burden any of you. Not as though we had not authority, but that we might give ourselves a pattern unto you for to imitate us. For also when we were with you, this we denounced to you: that if any will not work, neither let him eat. For we have heard of certain among you that walk unquietly, working nothing, but curiously meddling. And to them that be such we denounce and beseech them in our Lord Jesus Christ that, working with silence, they eat their own bread.

But you, brethren, faint not in well-doing. And if any obey not our word, note him by an epistle, and do not take company with him that he may be confounded. And do not esteem him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

And the Lord of peace Himself give you everlasting peace in every place. Our Lord be with you all.

The salutation, with mine own hand: Paul, which is a sign in every epistle, so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

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